A plan for Christmas

A plan for Christmas

 Boris Johnson and the leaders of the devolved nations agreed this week to a common easing of Covid-19 restrictions over Christmas, to allow three households to form “an exclusive Christmas bubble”, which can meet up indoors between 23 and 27 December. However, they urged people to “think carefully about what they do”, in order to avoid transmitting the disease. The virus “is obviously not going to grant a Christmas truce”, said Boris Johnson. If people throw caution to the wind over the festive period, he added, the country will have to pay for it in the new year. England’s lockdown is due to end next week, after which a beefed-up version of the previous system of regional, tiered restrictions will come into force.

Successful trial results for the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine, suggesting it would protect between 70% and 90% of those inoculated, boosted hopes the pandemic will be brought under control next year. England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, agreed with the PM this week that it should be possible to “pull back” from social distancing rules in the spring, with life perhaps returning to normal in the summer.

Things are looking (slightly) up, said The Mail on Sunday. In place of England’s blanket lockdown, we’re promised a new, more coherent form of the previous tier-based rules. The rigid 10pm pub curfew will be softened, for instance, so that people no longer all pour onto the street at the same time. “And by gracious permission of Her Majesty’s Government, we will be able to celebrate something resembling a traditional family Christmas.” Easing the rules on gatherings over the festive period made sense, said The Independent, because “many people would surely have ignored any ban, and would then be more likely to break the rules in future”.

With vaccines expected to be rolled out next year, it’s more important than ever that people pull together over the next difficult few months to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed, said The Guardian. The Government, for its part, must do all it can to ensure that viable businesses are “still standing when the country emerges from this ordeal”. The anticipated arrival of vaccines shouldn’t lead us to push too quickly for a return to normal life, said The Times. “Having come this far, the country can endure a few more months of restrictions. What is needed now is patience.”